Jan 30, 2009

Notes on women

The window looks over the street, but she never looks. She never looks over the street even though there’s a window with a balcony, off her office, so she could stand there and look. Even though she can hear the passing people, the cars going by and everything, she doesn’t look. She doesn’t. Even in the spring, and when it first snows for the year and when the sun sets purple, she stays at her desk.

The window looks over the street, but the blind woman stays at her desk and types by touch.

She is cold. She sits down on the bus and she brings it with her, wearing it like a coat. She is cold the way ghosts are cold, seeming to delete the heat out of the air, so the cold is how you even know she’s there.

She is cold, but she doesn’t shiver. She sits still as the people around her shiver, suddenly cold, and she turns away, passive and imperturbable, showing the melted side of her face.

When she remembers, she remembers the men. They were all bosses, and that’s how she remembers them, and she remembers minor moments, over and over she remembers them, insults and offenses, because that’s the real work that was done. Cigar smoke, she says, oh he used to blow cigar smoke in our faces – he just breathed the stuff – all the time.

They’ve long since died, the men. They’ve died on golf courses and in nursing homes. They’ve died from quick heart attacks, shitting themselves as they clutched at their chests, and from slow cancers, wearing ass-less gowns as their bodies wrinkled and their cancers metastasized. Powerful and privileged men, they suffered the million humiliations of helplessness and then they died. Even if they would have remembered her, they’re dead now. But she remembers, when she remembers, and she remembers these men.

That’s all she does now, remember and remember and remember, in the sick bed in the curtained room.

Look, she said, and she was a woman and I was not, what are women characters? What are they, except male characters with female names?